Tommy Schnurmacher: My parents survived the Holocaust — I can get through a pandemic


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It was all Sharon’s fault.

As a Twitter addict and committed news junkie, I was spending a bitter cold Montreal night in late February sipping a steaming decaf Ispirazione Venezia Nespresso coffee while hunched over my iPhone scrolling through my Twitter feed. Like I do for hours on end any day with a D in it, I was yet again anxiously seeking the intermittent reinforcement of breaking news not involving the president of the United States.

The phone beeped. A notification of a text message from Sharon, a friendly neighbour who had once joined my partner Harold and I on a trip to Europe.

She knew Harold and I were heading off to Italy again for a two-week stay at a magnificent antique-laden Airbnb apartment near the San Marcuola vaporetto stop in Venice.

Her text was simple enough: “Saw on the news COVID really getting bad in Italy.”

Impossible. Can’t be. She must be wrong. A quick Google search, however, indicated that there was indeed a problem in Veneto.